The need for equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the United Nations Security Council
University of British Columbia
Master of Laws - LLM
The United Nations is composed of six principal organs. These are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, the Secretariat, and the Trusteeship Council. But, as the organ conferred with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, amongst other vital functions, the Security Council is without doubt the most important organ of the United Nations. At the San Francisco Conference which led to the establishment of the U.N., it was agreed that the Security Council shall consist of 11 members, 5 permanent and 6 non-permanent. In recognition of the fact that peace could not be maintained without the cooperation of the Major Powers (China, U.S.S.R., U.S.A., U.K., and France) the 5 Major Powers became Permanent Members of the Security Council. Additionally, decisions of the Council on substantive matters was subject to the concurring votes, so called veto right, of all five Permanent Members. Between 1945 and 1963, membership of the United Nations increased from 51 to 113. Thus, the Security Council was increased from 11 to 15, by the creation of 4 more non-permanent seats. Since 1963, U.N. membership has increased from 113 to 185 with most of the new members coming from Africa and Asia. The present distribution of permanent seats does not reflect the increased representation from Africa, Latin America, and Asia, nor the emergence of economic giants such as Japan and Germany, the second and third largest contributors to the U.N. regular budget. Furthermore, the abuse of the veto has led to a call for an elimination or a limitation of the veto. In addressing these problems, I divided the U.N. into four time periods: the pre-U.N., the San Francisco Conference, Security Council practice from 1945 to 1990, and post cold-war practice, 1991 till present. In examining each period I relied on official documents including the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, the San Francisco Conference Papers, and Repertory of Security Council Practice. My conclusion is that there should be an increase in the permanent and nonpermanent seats of the Security Council to make it more representative, and that while the veto needs to be preserved, there is a need to limit the scope of the veto.
Law, Peter A. Allard School of